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Title: Imperial College London


1
Biodiversity loss and ecosystem change
consequences for people and the environment
Henk Wallays
2
Outline
  • 1. The 2010 biodiversity target
  • 2. Will we meet the 2010 target?
  • 3. Why does biodiversity matter?
  • 4. After 2010

3
The CBD 2010 biodiversity target
  • In April 2002, at the Sixth Conference of the
    Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity
    (CBD) 123 Ministers committed themselves to
    actions to
  • .. achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction
    of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the
    global, regional and national levels as a
    contribution to poverty alleviation and to the
    benefit of all life on earth (Decision VI/26).

4
Wider applications
  • The 2010 target was also supported by
    Environment Ministers at the closing sessions at
    World Summit on Sustainable Development in
    Johannesburg in 2002.
  • In Europe the campaign for Countdown 2010 aims
    to halt the loss of biodiversity in Europe by
    2010. (SEBI indicators)
  • In 2008 a target for reducing biodiversity
    loss was formally added as a sub-target to the
    United Nations Millennium Development Goal 7
    (MDG7b) which aims to ensure environmental
    sustainability.

5
The 2010 target in practice
  • Three measures needed
  • Lack of baselines and timescales
  • Prone to perverse incentives and unintended
    consequences
  • Hardest to achieve in the most critical places
    such as intact, high biodiversity sites.
  • The rate of change slows down as zero is
    approached

6
Outline
  • 1. The 2010 biodiversity target
  • 2. Will we meet the 2010 target?
  • 3. Why does biodiversity matter?
  • 4. After 2010

7
Indicators of change
8
What is biodiversity?

"Biological diversity" is the variability among
living organisms from all sources including,
inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic
ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which
they are part. This includes diversity within
species, between species and of ecosystems. (CBD)
9
Measuring biodiversity
  • What can we say about the status of global
    diversity?
  • Within species
  • Species level
  • Ecosystem-biome level

10
Local populations
WWF-ZSL Living Planet Index
Populations in the LPI database
11
Species
  • Well defined units.
  • Variety of measures richness, diversity,
    endemism, phylogenetic, ecological roles, etc.
  • Biological importance is clear.
  • Resonance with policy, legislation.
  • Much potential and actual data.
  • Overall bias to large-bodied organisms and
    terrestrial habitats.

12
Species numbers on Earth known and estimated
total
13
Species
IUCN Red List status of the worlds terrestrial
vertebrates 2008
14
Trends in threatened species
  • IUCN Red List Index
  • Threatened birds (1988-2004) show continuing
    deterioration in their conservation status

All birds
Birds by realm
Butchart et al 2004 PLOS Biology
15
Species extinction rates past, present and future

Humans have increased the species extinction rate
by as much as 1,000 times over background rates
typical over the planets history Future
projections suggest that species extinction rates
could increase to 10 to 100 times higher than in
the recent past.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005
www.maweb.org
16
Ecosystems
  • No single agreed classification can exist at
    any scale.
  • Clear links to many ecosystem functions and
    services.
  • Much new information from large scale mapping and
    remote sensing (with care).
  • For some purposes, avoids knowledge gaps.

17
Ecosystem change terrestrial systems
Cultivated systems now cover one quarter of
Earths terrestrial surface
18
Ecosystem change terrestrial systems
Ecosystem change marine systems
Halpern et al .2007
19
Changes to ecosystems global
  • More than two thirds of the area of two biomes
    and more than half of the area of four others had
    been converted by 1990
  • Projected future changes are concentrated in the
    tropics, while limited recovery is expected in
    the temperate forests and woodlands.

20
Will we meet the 2010 target?
  • From the information to hand at global level No
  • At population, species and biome level roughly 1
    of biodiversity is lost each year, and most
    trends are to increasing rates of loss.
  • There are places, habitats and species where the
    situation has improved (e.g. intensively managed
    species, habitats under restoration and
    management, especially in Europe and North
    America)
  • Local species diversity may be increasing while
    globally it declines.
  • While the major driving forces behind
    biodiversity loss remain, the trend cannot be
    reversed.

21
Drivers of biodiversity loss are still growing
in intensity
  • Most direct drivers of degradation remain
    constant or are growing in intensity in most
    ecosystems

22
Increasing observed mean global temperatures
IPCC 2007
23
New intensities of change - climate
S.T. Jackson J. T. Overpeck, 2000,
Paleobiology, 26, 194
24
Outline
  • 1. The 2010 biodiversity target
  • 2. Will we meet the 2010 target?
  • 3. Why does biodiversity matter?
  • 4. After 2010

25
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
  • The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)
  • Examined the status of the worlds ecosystems and
    their ability to meet the needs of a growing
    number of people
  • Largest assessment ever undertaken of the health
    of ecosystems 1360 experts from 95 countries
  • Reported in 2005

26
Ecosystem Services Benefits people obtain from
ecosystems
  • Provisioning Services
  • Food
  • Freshwater
  • Wood fuel
  • Timber
  • Fibre
  • Genetic Resources

27
Ecosystem Services Benefits people obtain from
ecosystems
  • Provisioning Services
  • Regulating Services
  • Climate Regulation
  • Flood Regulation
  • Disease Regulation
  • Water Purification

28
Ecosystem Services Benefits people obtain from
ecosystems
  • Provisioning Services
  • Regulating Services
  • Cultural Services
  • Aesthetic
  • Spiritual
  • Educational
  • Recreational
  • Social Relations

29
Ecosystem Services The benefits people obtain
from ecosystems
Regulating Benefits obtained from ecosystem
processes climate regulation disease
regulation flood regulation
Provisioning Goods produced or provided by
ecosystems food fresh water fuel wood
genetic resources
Cultural Non-material benefits from ecosystems
spiritual recreational aesthetic
inspirational educational
Supporting Services necessary for other ecosystem
services Soil formation Nutrient cycling
Primary production
From Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing. MA 2003
30
MA Framework
  • Human Wellbeing and
  • Poverty Reduction
  • Material minimum for a good life
  • Health
  • Good Social Relations
  • Security
  • Freedom and Choice
  • Indirect Drivers of Change
  • Demographic
  • Economic (globalization, trade, market and policy
    framework)
  • Sociopolitical (governance and institutional
    framework)
  • Science and Technology
  • Cultural and Religious
  • Direct Drivers of Change
  • Changes in land use or land cover
  • Species introductions or removals
  • Technology adaptation and use
  • External inputs (e.g., irrigation, fertilizer
    use, pest control)
  • Harvest and Resource Consumption
  • Climate Change
  • Natural physical and biological drivers (e.g.,
    volcanoes, evolution)

31
MA Main Findings
  • 1. Humans have radically altered ecosystems in
    the last 50 years.

www.MAweb.org
32
During 1950-2000 ecosystem change was more rapid
than at any time in human history
  • 20 of the worlds coral reefs were lost and 20
    degraded
  • More land was converted to cropland in the 30
    years since 1950 than in the 150 years between
    1700 and 1850
  • Flows of biologically available nitrogen doubled
    and flows of phosphorus tripled

33
Main Findings
  • 1. Humans have radically altered ecosystems in
    last 50 years.
  • 2. Changes have brought gains to many people

www.MAweb.org
34
Recent changes to ecosystems have provided
substantial benefits
  • Food production has more than doubled since 1960
  • Food production per capita has grown
  • Food price has fallen

35
Main Findings
  • 1. Humans have radically altered ecosystems
    in last 50 years.
  • 2. Changes have brought gains but at growing
    costs that threaten achievement of development
    goals.
  • Degradation of many ecosystem services
  • Increased risk of abrupt changes in ecosystems
  • Growing harm to poor people

www.MAweb.org
36
The Balance Sheet
Enhanced
Mixed
Degraded
Crops Livestock Aquaculture Carbon sequestration
Capture fisheries Wild foods Wood fuel Genetic
resources Biochemicals Fresh Water Air quality
regulation Regional local climate
regulation Erosion regulation Water
purification Pest regulation Pollination Natural
Hazard Regulation Spiritual religious
Aesthetic values
Timber Fiber Water regulation Disease
regulation Recreation ecotourism
Bottom Line 60 of Ecosystem Services are
degraded
37
Main Findings
  • 1. Humans have radically altered ecosystems in
    last 50 years.
  • 2. Changes have brought gains but at growing
    costs that threaten achievement of development
    goals.
  • 3. Degradation of ecosystems could grow worse,
    but can be reversed.

www.MAweb.org
38
MA Scenarios
  • Not predictions scenarios are plausible futures
  • Both quantitative models and qualitative analysis
    used in scenario development

39
Improvements in services can be achieved by 2050
  • Three of the four scenarios show that significant
    changes in policy can partially mitigate the
    negative consequences of growing pressures on
    ecosystems, although the changes required are
    large and not currently under way

40
Main Findings
  • 1. Humans have radically altered ecosystems in
    last 50 years.
  • 2. Changes have brought gains but at growing
    costs that threaten achievement of development
    goals.
  • 3. Degradation of ecosystems could grow worse,
    but can be reversed.
  • 4. But the actions needed are significant and not
    underway

www.MAweb.org
41
Actions with positive outcomes
  • Payments for ecosystem services
  • Elimination of trade barriers and distorting
    subsidies
  • Use of active adaptive management
  • Investment in new technologies
  • Investments in public goods (e.g., education) and
    poverty reduction

42
The role of biodiversity
43
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functions
Species diversity increases plant
biomass production in grasslands
Biodiversity increases wood production in
Mediterranean forests
Tilman et al., Science 294 843845 (2001)
Vilà et al., Ecol. Lett. 10 241250 (2007)
44
How much does it matter?
ECOSYSTEM SERVICES
ECOSYSTEM PROCESSES
BIODIVERSITY
Biomass Extent
Regulation of storms and floods
Composition
Production
Disease regulation
Resilience Adaptability
Genetic diversity
Food
Nutrient cycling
Interactions
Decomposition
Climate regulation
Soil formation
Functional diversity
Aesthetic, educational, spiritual services
Species richness
45
Outline
  • 1. The 2010 biodiversity target
  • 2. Will we meet the 2010 target?
  • 3. Why does biodiversity matter?
  • 4. After 2010

46
Reflections on the 2010 target
  • Visionary and ambitious
  • Has attracted much interest and attention
  • An important rallying point for biodiversity
  • But will it encourage better biodiversity
    management? Will meeting it necessarily indicate
    success?
  • Negative target
  • Meeting it may not achieve what we need for
    biodiversity
  • Is it achievable?

47
After 2010?
  • I. Reformulate the target to be more specific and
    turn it from negative to positive.
  • A re-formulated goal to
  • Reduce the rate of detrimental or undesired
    biodiversity change.
  • Or preferably
  • Enhance the role of biodiversity in supporting
    sustainable ecosystems and human wellbeing.
  • II. Over time, and in collaboration with
    relevant bodies from policy and science, develop
    a small set of specific, measurable and relevant
    targets which bear directly on societys needs
    from biodiversity and ecosystems.

48
New targets
  • These targets could be time-limited, developed
    gradually as the evidence and needs arise, in
    ways that are responsive to circumstances.

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
2018 2019
Goal enhance biodiversity
Target 4
Target 1
Target 2
Target 5
Target 3
49
Examples of specific targets
  • Science-based
  • Direct impacts on peoplee.g. fisheries, coastal
    mangroves, major carbon and methane stores,
    trophic collapse in marine systems..
  • Minimum viable areas for certain ecosystem
    functions
  • e.g. local climate, estuarine processes, PVAs,
    MPAs
  • Measure rates of change in relation to adaptive
    capacity of the system
  • e.g. dispersal, migration, evolution
  • Value-based
  • An agenda for species conservation, protected
    areas
  • e.g. no more bird extinctions
  • Status of nationally or locally significant sites
    or species
  • e.g. elephants, Serengeti migrations, Gt Barrier
    reef

50
Current and emerging initiatives
  • Initiatives
  • Stern-likereview (TEEB)
  • Follow-up to the MA
  • IMoSEB -gt IPBES
  • GBIF - GEO BON
  • 2008 CBD CoP
  • 2010
  • Needs
  • Enhanced scientific advice on biodiversity
  • Valuation studies
  • Knowledge of biodiversity and ecosystem processes
  • Increased knowledge and flow of biodiversity
    information widened access to biodiversity
    information
  • Integration of biodiversity data with other
    environmental information
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